As the owner of Newleaf Total Wellness Centre in Abbotsford, I am often asked if hypnosis can really be considered therapy. The answer is a resounding YES! Hypnotherapy is a holistic approach to treating many physical and mental health conditions. Initially, the idea of hypnotherapy seems mysterious and, to some extent, intimidating. However, it is a well-respected albeit unregulated therapy practiced by certified professionals. While the use of hypnosis by certified hypnotherapists has gained greater acceptance in mainstream healthcare, one must understand that hypnotherapy is not a one-size-fits-all technique. People have different personalities, temperaments, and emotional regulation, which affect the success of hypnotherapy. This article will explain hypnotherapy and what happens during a session to help you make an informed choice for your therapeutic needs.
What is Hypnotherapy?
Hypnotherapy is a type of talk therapy that involves entering an alpha/theta brain wave state, which occurs naturally during sleep. Its purpose is to make lasting positive changes in your thoughts, emotions, and behaviours. By combining talk therapy with therapeutic hypnosis, hypnotherapy creates a safe and supportive environment to bridge the gap between conscious intentions and subconscious motivations. You can begin to align your thoughts and actions with your desired outcome. Typically, each hypnotherapy session lasts around an hour, and patients often see noticeable improvements within two to ten sessions. However, the required sessions can vary depending on individual needs and goals.
What can Hypnotherapy Treat?
Hypnotherapy has been extensively researched and is proven to help individuals manage stress, anxiety, irritable bowel syndrome, PTSD, and the behavioural issues experienced by children with autism. Hypnosis also provides a practical solution for pain management without any side effects, which is especially important in light of the growing concerns around opioid addiction.
In addition to pain control and behaviour change, hypnotherapy holds promise in addressing mental health conditions, treating asthma and alleviating the side effects of cancer treatment. This versatile approach extends to breaking free from the fight, flight or freeze response.
However, it is important to note that hypnotherapy may not be suitable for people with severe mental health issues or those under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Furthermore, experts advise against using hypnosis for memory retrieval. Remembering the past is essentially a form of storytelling, as our memories depend on the last story we tell ourselves. Consequently, individuals hoping to recall childhood events should be cautious of creating false memories through hypnotherapy.
How does it Work?
By accessing the power of your subconscious mind, hypnotherapy allows you to rewrite the code of your mental programming. The conscious mind only controls a small portion of your overall well-being, while the subconscious accounts for a staggering 88%. Hypnotherapy helps reframe your subconscious mindset to align with your goals and dreams.
What happens in a session?
Stage One – Introductions and Goal Setting
During your first session, your hypnotherapist will get to know you, your reasons for seeking hypnotherapy, and your experience with therapy in general. They will ask about your medical and mental health history, the symptoms you are experiencing, any medications you are taking and your goals for therapy. This information is crucial for the hypnotherapist to create a customized plan for your treatment. Once your hypnotherapist has gathered initial information, they will explain how hypnotherapy works. They will describe the hypnosis process, what will happen during the session, how you may or may not feel, and what to expect after the session. It’s essential to ask all your questions now to ensure you feel fully informed, comfortable and relaxed before your session.
Stage Two – Hypnosis and Conversation
The hypnotherapist will lead you into a relaxed state, similar to meditation, by having you imagine yourself in a relaxing, peaceful place, allowing your mind to support your body in deep rest. With your eyes closed, you’ll remain fully alert as they guide you through the session. Focusing on your breath, you’ll release stress and tension, entering a state of deep relaxation.
Once you have achieved a hypnotic state, the therapist will guide you on a visual journey to release negativity and incorporate positive changes. Through heartfelt discussions between your protected self and these vulnerable aspects, some discover a transformative experience. The intention is to forge a new relationship within yourself, building a foundation for growth and healing guided by love and protection.
This process involves suggestions to replace unfavourable trance states with more desirable ones. The therapist may also help you reframe negative experiences or memories so that they are no longer a source of stress or anxiety. You may feel lightheaded, relaxed, or even fall asleep during the session. Some patients report being amazed by the intensity of the beautiful emotions they experience in this state. These experiences are normal and to be expected.
It’s important to remember that the hypnotherapist will never ask you to do anything outside of your comfort zone or beliefs, and you will be in complete control throughout the process. Many patients describe hypnosis as a state of deep relaxation and heightened awareness. If, at any point, you feel uncomfortable or wish to stop, you can simply open your eyes and speak with your hypnotherapist. Communicating any feelings that arise is crucial, as this is the only way your therapist can make adjustments for subsequent sessions.
Stage Three – Ending the Session
Before bringing you back to full awareness, the hypnotherapist will often offer positive suggestions and allow you to address any remaining concerns. Your consent is of utmost importance, and a good hypnotherapist will include the suggestion, “No one, including myself, will be able to hypnotize you without your consent.” After the session, you will slowly come out of the hypnotic state and may feel more relaxed, energized, or the same as before. The therapist will conclude the session by discussing your experiences and observations. Before you leave, the therapist may also provide you with activities to do that support ongoing self-love and growth or self-hypnosis techniques to try on your own. In any case, you must practice self-reflection and self-care after the session.
Hypnotherapy may serve as a powerful tool for enhancing well-being, alleviating anxiety, and transforming negative behavioural patterns. Nevertheless, certain patients may experience restlessness, anxiety, or difficulty reaching an alpha/theta state, which can impact the effectiveness of hypnotherapy. It’s important to note that successful therapy relies heavily on the rapport between the client and therapist, with rapport accounting for more than 70% of therapy’s efficacy. It is essential to consider all your therapy options and find a therapist whose personality and technique suit your specific needs.
Written by: DeVera Nybo